My Breakfast with the Gefilteria Gang (Repost from The Forward)

17 Aug

The following was originally published by The Forward on August 16, 2016.  One of the subjects of the article, Jeffrey Yoskowitz, is the son of Sarasota resident Dr. Arnold Yoskowitz.  Here is the link to the original article.

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By Leah Koenig

w-alpern-yoskowitz-1471293480Last week, I had breakfast with Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern (pictured above: photo credit Lauren Volo) — co-founders of the boutique Jewish food company, Gefilteria, and authors of the forthcoming cookbook “The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods”.

We gathered for bagels at Hudson Eats, an upscale food court on the southern tip of Manhattan that has become a mothership of artisanal foods, including a kiosk of the wood fired bagel shop, Black Seed Bagels. Inside a glass-filled atrium with Gucci and Burberry shops looming nearby, our surroundings felt oddly opulent. But the bagels were still warm, and the wide tables overlooking the glinting river outside were great for catching up with some old friends.

For the near-decade that I have known, dined with and occasionally collaborated with Jeff and Liz, they have always felt like kindred spirits. Like me, they are people who got into the world of Jewish food not because it was trendy, but because it felt like an authentic expression of who they are, and because they sensed they might have something to add to the conversation.

Starting from scratch, they wrote a manifesto about the importance of reclaiming Jewish cuisine’s time-honored foods and launched their business with a high-quality take on Ashkenazi cuisine’s most infamous appetizer, gefilte fish. Their version is a far-cry from the soulless jarred stuff that most people associate with gefilte fish. It is made in small batches, uses sustainable fish, and is truly delicious, even without a dollop of horseradish.

In the days before Passover in 2012 — their first holiday in business as gefilte fish makers — they spent hours in a cramped synagogue kitchen in New York’s East Village grinding hundreds of pounds of fish while a young Yiddish singer (another friend of mine, Benjy Fox-Rosen), played a CD-release concert in the social hall outside. Quite an auspicious way to start a Jewish food business, no?

“Everything we did for the first three years of our company was new to us. We just had to jump in and learn on the job,” Yoskowitz said. As someone who has made a career as a food writer without formal culinary training or a degree in journalism, I know the feeling. “Luckily, people took the leap of faith with us,” Alpern said. “And soon, we became the gefilte people.”

Early on, they toyed with what it might mean to scale up their artisanal gefilte fish to compete with the big boys of Jewish food production like Manischewitz or Rokeach. But they quickly realized that was not the path they wanted. “The bigger you get, the more divorced you become from the food you’re producing,” Alpern said. “We couldn’t imagine sitting in some board room making decisions far away from the actual food.”

“What we really wanted was to put our recipes directly in people’s hands and give them the confidence to make this food,” Yoskowitz said. So they doubled doubled down on the educational portion of their mission. While continuing to offer their gefilte fish seasonally (around Passover and Rosh Hashanah), they began to travel around the country to teach cooking classes and host pop up events and dinners — including the Passover seder at the James Beard Foundation — that showcase Ashkenazi food at its best.

Their book, out in mid-September, is another major step in that direction. The collection of recipes aims to, as Yoskowitz put it, “recover the flavors of Ashkenazi cooking that got lost as Jews moved from Eastern Europe to America, or even from the Lower East Side to the suburbs and beyond.” So there’s a chapter on soups and dumplings and another on the many varieties of pickles that once brightened up the Ashkenazi table in the dead of winter. There are recipes for creamy noodle kugels with spiced plums, home-cured pastrami and updated classics like kimchi-stuffed cabbage. One of my favorite recipes is a homemade butter flavored with everything-bagel spice — a perfect breakfast spread to pair with a slice of Jewish rye or a bialy (both recipes that can be found in the book.)

Another delightful case in point is the cookbook’s recipe for Roast goose with apples and onions. In the old country, geese were prized within the Jewish household for their ribbons of fat (great for rendering into schmaltz), their feathers for down pillows, and, of course, their meat for roasting. “In the early 20th century, you could find Jews trying to raise geese on the Lower East Side,” Yoskowitz said. Of course, the practice of raising backyard poultry didn’t stick in Manhattan, and geese were replaced by the more industrial-friendly chicken. “The Gefilte Manifesto’s” recipe, then, helps capture a food that once delighted our ancestors, and brings it to the contemporary table.

For those cooks who might be intimidated by the thought of roasting a whole goose or making homemade pickled beets, fret not. Many of the dishes in “The Gefilte Manifesto” fall into the quick-and-easy category. And for those that are more of a project, Yoskowitz and Alpern offer substitutions and workarounds. “We provide shortcuts that don’t dilute the quality or spirit of the dishes,” Yoskowitz said. In other words, you won’t find wonton wrappers subbing in for dough in their kreplach. But if you don’t have a batch of homemade lacto-fermented pickles on hand to make their pickle brine bread, they suggest subbing in the liquid from a store-bought jar.

Talking with my friends over breakfast, I couldn’t help but kvell for them. Their gefilte fish, their events and now their cookbook are changing the conversation of what it means to make and connect with Ashkenazi Jewish food.

Casting Call for a new Steven Spielberg film

29 Jun

clapper-board-152088ROLE “EDGARDO” — BOY age 6-9 to play 6 years old. This is a unique and very challenging part for a truly special boy. The story deals with the complexity of an extremely intelligent and gifted child’s situation – his desire to return to his family and the faith of his ancestors, pitted against his ability to learn the Catechism and engage with the Pope on a level far beyond his years. HE SHOULD APPEAR TO BE A JEWISH ITALIAN child. We are not looking for any kind of Italian accent. LEAD.

STORY LINE “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”— Steven Spielberg is making a film about the true story of EDGARDO MORTARA – a 6 year old Jewish boy from Bologna who was reported to have been secretly baptized by a maid, and was deemed by the Catholic church therefore to be Christian. Pope Pius IX (to be played by Mark Rylance) decreed that the boy could not remain with his Jewish family. He was seized by the Papal State and taken to the Vatican where his indoctrination into Catholicism began. This was a cause célèbre of mid-nineteenth century European politics and the domestic and international outrage against the pontifical state’s actions may have contributed to its downfall amid the unification of Italy. This is an incredible story of real historical relevance.

To submit: Email delisicreative@gmail.comSubject line: EDGARDO SUBMISSION / Name of boy, city/state. Body of email: Parents/Guardians contact info (names/phone), boys name/age/d.o.b, city/state of residence, along w/current non retouched photos. If you’d like to include a brief introduction, bio or resume, please do! Please note any related, special, or fun facts so we get to know him!

 

Interfaith Missions to Israel

22 Jun 12828394_928578320590978_6654802365235987995_o

For the past 4 years, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has invested in relationships with the Christian community through community programming and interfaith missions to Israel. This year, we had the opportunity to travel to Israel with another Federation community from the Heart of New Jersey. This unique trip consisted of clergy and leadership from Jewish, Presbyterian, Reform Church, Baptists and Episcopal communities. To read about this trip, click on this article

Below are quotes from two local leaders who traveled to Israel with the Jewish Federation on the mission highlighted in the article:

“Beyond the blessing of biblical locations and narratives coming alive in sight and context, the interfaith trip was a marvelous opportunity to explore deeper conversations and questions (even tough ones) about Judaism and Christianity’s heritage.  The trip also opened my eyes to the greater reality of everyday life in Israel – what it is and isn’t.  How refreshing to see and hear stories of hope and understanding – appreciating the effort to recognize and respect our common human dignity, regardless of background, and the desire we all have to make a better life for future generations.  I learned a lot and am forever grateful for such an educational and inspirational trip.”     – Rev. Michael Todd, Church of the Holy Spirit, Osprey, Florida

 

 

“Israel faces many complex challenges. So often in American mainstream media and around the world, Israel is painted in a negative light, despite the fact that they are daily confronted by an enemy that seeks to destroy their existence. Traveling there and getting to see and hear first-hand about these challenges and the strides Israel is trying to make, was such an affirmation of this bias in media. Truth matters – whether that’s here in America or there in Israel. We need to see both sides of the story and understand that what Israel is facing is complicated. One of the purposes of this trip was for us to see for ourselves what is taking place, to dispel the misconceptions we so often see.  I believe the trip accomplished this.” – Dixie Cline, Director of Development, CareNet Manasota, Bradenton, Florida

14 Jun

#PrayForOrlando smaller Jun2015

THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF SARASOTA-MANATEE IS OUTRAGED AND SADDENED BY THE TRAGIC AND HORRIFIC MASS SHOOTING IN ORLANDO

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is outraged and saddened by the tragic and horrific mass shooting this weekend at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This act of terror and hate, inspired by radical Islamic views, has left 49 people confirmed killed and at least 53 more severely injured. We were dismayed to learn of this horrifying attack on the LGBTQ community while Jews around the world were celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the anniversary of the day G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

A key tenet of the Torah is that humankind was created in G-d’s image, and therefore we must treat one another with compassion and respect. The Jewish Federation strongly condemns those who target a particular community. We will not stand idly by and let terrorists and those who espouse hatred win.  Instead we as the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish community pledge our devotion and loyalty to all communities who are subject to hatred and discrimination. We will work together to fight back and stand in solidarity together.

The rising tide of extremism and violence, around the world and here in the United States, is profoundly disturbing and reiterates the threat of terrorism to the entire free world. We mourn for those murdered, offer our condolences to their families and pray for a swift recovery of the injured. All Americans were attacked, but the LGBT community was targeted.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ and entire Orlando community.

Howard Tevlowitz
Executive Director

#BUYcottIsrael

17 May

If you understand that Boycotting, Divesting from or Sanctioning Israel (otherwise known as the BDS movement) in fact does nothing to enable a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, then you may roll your eyes every time you see a call to “Boycott products made in Israel”.  Let’s take it one step further and participate in a BUYcott campaign!

Below are stores in the local area where you can find Israeli products. If you know of a store that is not listed, please let us know.  When you’re out buying Israeli made products, snap a photo of yourself, post it to our Facebook pagebuycott_Jessi_publixArrows

Bed Bath and Beyond

The Walking Company

Taste of Europe

Publix

CostCo

BJ’s Wholesale

Ace Hardware

Lowe’s

Home Depot

Sam’s Club

Target

Walmart

And below is an extensive list of companies that support Israel in some way or another, with the brands they own. This list alone is a WIN for beauty and fashion connoisseurs.

Estée Lauder: Chairman Ronald Lauder is the current president of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which owns approximately 13% of land in the state of Israel.

Estée Lauder brands:

  • Aveda
  • Coach cosmetics
  • Smashbox
  • Tom Ford
  • Aramis
  • Bumble and Bumble
  • Aerin
  • American Beauty
  • Clinique
  • Bobbi Brown
  • Darphin
  • Donna Karan
  • Ermenegildo Zegna
  • Flirt!
  • Goodskin Labs
  • Grassroots Research Labs
  • Jo Malone
  • Kiton
  • La Mer
  • Lab series skincare for men
  • MAC
  • Michael Kors
  • OJON
  • Origins
  • OSIAO
  • Prescriptives
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Tory Burch

Ahava

Revlon: Revlon’s largest stakeholder, Ronald Perelman, is a major trustee of the Simon Weisenthal foundation, Revlon also owns Almay.

L’Oreal:  L’Oreal Israel also manufacturers a line of products using Dead Sea minerals under the name “Natural Sea Beauty” that is exported to 22 countries.

L’Oreal brands:

  • Lancome
  • Giorgio Armani Beauty
  • Yves Saint Laurent Beauté
  • Biotherm
  • Kiehl’s
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Shu Uemura
  • Cacharel
  • Helena Rubinstein
  • Clarisonic
  • Diesel
  • Viktor & Rolf
  • Yue Sai
  • Maison Martin Margiela
  • Urban Decay
  • Guy Laroche
  • Paloma Picasso
  • Vichy
  • La Roche-Posay
  • SkinCeuticals
  • Inneov
  • Rogers&Gallet
  • Sanoflore
  • L’Oreal Paris
  • Garnier
  • Maybelline New York
  • Carson
  • Essie
  • The Body Shop
  • L’Oreal Professionnel
  • Kérastase
  • Redken
  • Matrix
  • Pureology
  • Shu Uemura Art of Hair
  • Mizani
  • NYX (recent acquisition)

Procter & Gamble 

Procter & Gamble brands include:

  • Always
  • Tampax
  • Luvs
  • Pampers
  • Bounty
  • Naturella
  • Tempo
  • Charmin
  • Whisper
  • Dodot
  • Puffs
  • Crest
  • Gillette
  • Oral-B
  • Scope
  • Vicks
  • Venus
  • Clearblue
  • Fusion
  • Braun
  • CoverGirl
  • Herbal Essences
  • Max Factor
  • Nice ‘n Easy
  • Pantene
  • Vidal Sassoon
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Ivory
  • Aussie
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Old Spice
  • Secret
  • Olay
  • Clairol Professional
  • Cheer
  • Bounce
  • Daz
  • Era
  • Gain
  • Clean
  • Comet
  • Downy
  • Fab
  • Gala
  • Proper
  • Ariel
  • Cascade
  • Dash
  • Dawn
  • Dreft Laundry
  • Fairy
  • Joy
  • Myth
  • Swiffer
  • Febreeze
  • Duracell

Johnson & Johnson: In 1998 Israel bestowed a Jubilee Award to Johnson & Johnson. Awarded personally by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Israel’s 50th anniversary, the Jubilee Awards were given to select individuals and companies who, through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the Israeli economy.

Johnson & Johnson brands:

  • Johnson’s baby products
  • Aveeno
  • Lubriderm
  • Aveeno
  • Neutrogena
  • Vendome
  • Clean & Clear
  • Roc
  • Bebe
  • Band-Aid
  • Bengay
  • Neosporin
  • Cortaid
  • Listerine
  • Rembrandt
  • Tylenol
  • Sudafed
  • Pepcid
  • Nicorette
  • Motrin
  • Immodium
  • Dolormin
  • Benadryl
  • Mylanta
  • Zyrtec
  • Splenda
  • Benecol
  • Lactaid
  • Visine
  • Acuvue contact lenses

Kimberly-Clark:They also received a Jubilee Award in 1998.

Kimberly-Clark brands:

  • Kotex
  • Depends
  • Poise
  • Kleenex
  • Scott
  • Viva
  • Cottonelle
  • Wondersoft
  • Thick & Thirsty
  • Huggies
  • Pull-Ups
  • GoodNites, Little Swimmers, Snugglers, etc

 

 

Moroccanoil hair products: made in Israel

Lavan body products: made in Israel

Albaad Rostam tampons: Albaad Rostam products are made in Israel. The company manufactures private label tampons for major companies in the US.

Generic tampon brands by Albaad Rostam:

  • Target (Up&Up)
  • Wal Mart (Equate)
  • Kroger (Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Scott’s Food & Pharmacy, Harris Teeter)
  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid
  • CVS

Delta Galil industries: Israeli textile companies

Clothing brands using Delta Galil fabric:

  • Nike
  • Calvin Klein
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Columbia
  • Lacoste
  • Walmart
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Triumph
  • United Colors of Benetton
  • Hugo Boss
  • Kenneth Cole
  • Target
  • Avia
  • Converse
  • Penguin
  • Lulu Lemon
  • MLB
  • JC Penney
  • Pierre Cardin
  • HEMA
  • Wilson
  • Marks and Spencer
  • BHS
  • UnderArmor
  • Maidenform
  • Sam’s Club
  • Spanx
  • Wacoal
  • Etam
  • 1,000 Mile
  • Wolf Lingerie
  • Dillard’s
  • Umbro
  • Saucony
  • SweatyBetty
  • Lane Bryant
  • Joop!
  • Marc O’Polo
  • Matalan
  • Sears
  • Primark
  • Hunkemoller

So get beautiful, diaper your child, wear your Friday best and BUYcott Israel! 

Israeli President Rivlin’s Message on Independence Day

11 May Reuven_Rivlin_as_the_president_of_Israel

May 10th, 2016

In honor of the upcoming national days, President Reuven Rivlin sent an Independence Day message to Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world.

 

In his message – which can be viewed here – President Rivlin spoke of his memories as a nine year old child, seeing the flag of Israel raised for the first time as the flag of an independent, sovereign state, he said, “Today, each time I see the flag flying, it fills my heart with pride and joy. As Israel turns 68, we can look with pride, at our past, and must look to the future with hope. The State of Israel was born out of a hope of 2000 years. It was born with the bravery of dreamers who worked to turn their dream into reality. Their spirit stays with us today. In the past year, I have visited many different places across this wonderful country, I have seen this spirit, this joy and pride, which still pushes us forward.”

 

The President spoke of the terrible price of terrorism and said, “Sadly, over the last year Israel has faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain, and left many painful scars. I sat in the houses, of the families who lost loved ones, soldiers and civilians, I felt their pain, and shared in their tears.” He stressed, “Terror will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price.” 

 

The President highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity in Israel’s democracy, “Real independence, means the freedom of expression, to celebrate and enjoy the diversity of voices of all the people in Israel, as different as they may be; whether we agree with them or not. An inclusive nation, which knows to debate and discuss with respect and understanding.”

 

The President concluded, “Our Independence Day is a day to celebrate. It is a day to lift the flag high in the knowledge that our hope will lead us to find the way to overcome the challenges, and to spread a message of understanding and respect between one another. And while around our borders, and even inside our borders, blow the terrible winds of radical Islam, we are sure of our path and of our ability and right to build here our national home, with security and prosperity.”

Why Are Jews the Only Minority We Don’t Protect On College Campuses? (repost)

6 May Univeristy of chicago council vote on BDS

*The following is a repost of an article that originally appeared in the Huffington Post on May 5th, 2016. To read the original please follow this link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-my-campus-jews-are-the-only-minority-we-dont-protect_us_572a9b98e4b046ff51c08a44 

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by Michael Sitver

Last week, some students at University of Chicago, where I attend, proposed a resolution to our College Council to divest from Chinese weapons manufacturers, in protest of China’s severe human rights abuses and its long-standing occupation of Tibet.

Members of the council were quick to condemn the resolution, and for good reason. The members noted it was political, and disrespectful to Chinese students. Other members noted that Chinese students should be given time to respond to the presenters with a counter-presentation. One representative even suggested that the College Council issue an apology to Chinese students for even considering the resolution. The resolution was tabled indefinitely.

Curiously, when a few weeks earlier the same College Council passed a nearly identical resolution condemning Israel, no one suggested an apology. These same representatives argued why it was their moral imperative to condemn Israel. They were determined to push this through at all costs, and despite requests, they didn’t even offer the other side an opportunity to present.

Over the past few weeks I have been told that Jews “don’t count” as a minority. I have been accused of using anti-semitism to justify oppression. All I want to know is why my campus doesn’t treat anti-semitism with the same rigor with which it treats any other forms of bias.

When Jews stood before the council, and asked that it recognize the Jewish right to self-determination, a basic right for all people, people in the room laughed. One representative noted that “If we were to affirm the right to Jewish self-determination … it takes away from the intent of the resolution”.

Students in the room that day called us racists and murderers and “apartheid supporters”, for even thinking we, as Jews, could have a voice in the discussion over the one small state we call our own. A Jewish student was chided “You are racist and you are against me and my family’s existence”. It was uncivil, and unproductive, but the council-members did not once that day condemn the personal nature of these attacks, or defend the rights of the opposition to make their case.

At one point, a student questioned the presenters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), about their organization allegedly holding a moment of silence for Palestinians who were killed while trying to murder Jewish Civilians. One of the presenters confirmed the moment, then responded without missing a beat “Palestinians have a right to honor their martyrs”.

If the killing of any other ethnic group had been celebrated, the University would make grief counselors available. It would send out mass emails of condemnation. They would suspend the organization responsible, and possibly the students involved in it. The organization would certainly not have any credibility to present to the student government. Since the victims were Jews though, their celebration of murder went unchallenged. The representatives never even brought the issue up.

On the third slide of the presentation in favor of the resolution, presenters claimed that voting against the resolution would mean “maintaining a system of domination by Jews”. The presenters were relying on one of the most common, long-standing, overtly anti-semitic tropes to make their case, and our representatives said nothing.

On the very next slide, the presenters shared a series of maps which MSNBC once famously referred to as deceptive, and “completely wrong“. The maps (inaccurately) depict border changes between Israelis and Palestinians from 1946-200. What’s most striking is the label though: “Jewish land versus Palestinian land over time”. Not one representative questioned the label. Not one representative questioned the map. The only thing they were willing to question was the right for some state of Israel to exist, and the right to Jewish self-determination.

 

COURTESY: UOFCDIVEST
There were about 500,000 Jews in Israel in 1948, but if you saw this map you would never guess that. This also uses “Jewish” in place of “Israeli”.

Student after student at that first meeting stood to explain to representatives how political and contentious the BDS movement was. They pointed out the movement’s ties to terror and anti-semitism. Some suggested the representatives compromise and call for divestment, but drop the explicit ties to the BDS movement. On this issue, finally, our representatives spoke out.

“As a voting member, I don’t think it’s my job to appease people who don’t support BDS”.

On the China resolution, representatives were quick to point out that it “minimize[d] this issue into a political ploy”. When it came to Israel though, the Council was happy to attempt to speak for its 5,000 constituents without hearing from the other side. They even violated procedure to shut out student voices one meeting, to expedite the vote. The one student they allowed to speak at the meeting was an activist in favor of the resolution.

One representative pointed out to the council that “this [BDS resolution] is being passed a week after a presentation for 15 minutes from one side of the debate, and the opposition … was never formally given time before College Council”. Another pointed out that “it is disingenuous to say that we have moral voice to represent the students and speak on this issue”. That didn’t stop the same representative who seemed so concerned about minimizing the struggles of the Chinese people as a political ploy, from voting for another political ploy.

Their coldness in minimizing the struggles of Jews, living with a legacy of being expelled and exterminated, was mind-boggling to me.

Then again, these biases, and suppressions of speech shouldn’t surprise me, given the system that these Representatives work in. They control $2 million in funding for events and clubs, and they wield that power to silence dissenting voices.

When SJP held events in support of the divest resolution, one of the sponsors was University of Chicago’s own Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

This week is Yom Hashoah, which commemorates the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis during World War II. On this day of remembrance, we say “Never forget. Never again”. Yom Hashoah also commemorates an international commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Sadly, fifty-three years after this day was first honored, we seem to be forgetting those lessons. As a campus we’re remarkably tolerant of gender, race, and sexuality in general. Why is it that we’re so uncaring about this one, very real form of racism?

Update (4/05): One thing I didn’t originally emphasize enough is how grateful I am to the 4-5 representatives on the council who genuinely recognized what this resolution was, and spoke and stood against it. I’ve tried my best throughout this article not to name names, but I do want thank those representatives.

Sources:

 

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